It’s been a few days. I’ve seen and heard the most ridiculous arguments, the most rational discussions, and opinions from people who have no idea what the fuck they’d really do. Most teachers would do what Aaron Feis did. No teacher should have to.
Change is necessary. I’m not saying to go out tomorrow and take everyone’s guns away, but why can’t we take a look at who owns these guns a little closer? It’s harder than a blanket mental health program, or just simply going into everyone’s houses and removing all guns. It won’t happen overnight, because it shouldn’t have been an overnight process. In 1999, the world watched as Columbine’s shooting played out. It’s been nearly twenty years. Twenty years to adjust policy, inject mental health professionals into schools and communities, erase the stigma of going to the psychologist. Twenty years to make sure our schools are safe. If “our best investment we have is our future generations.” Why are we unwilling to protect that investment? We’ve bailed out failed investments that didn’t really deserve a dime, but for our schools? Nah.
To the people who don’t understand the real situation, let me break down a few things. First, we do have active shooter, unknown person on campus, and danger nearby drills and procedures. I’ve long said what we have isn’t a great system, but it’s better than nothing with the multitude of people that we’re working with. These students should know what to do, but only once they hear the alert. Drills and practice are what helped their safety.
Second, it was the end of the school day and it wasn’t a student at the school. So, no a metal detector wasn’t going to stop anything. Most schools in Broward County at the end of the day are open, busses need access to the schools, students and staff need access to their other means of transportation, and honestly, there’s no funneling thousands of people outside otherwise. I can tell you from experience that I’ve seen and directed countless adults out of the wrong area at the end of the day. I can also tell you that some people at their core are truly assholes, and no matter what will do what they find easiest. Assessing campus weak points and having proper security is definitely a concern, but unless they’re armed and ready to shoot everyone that comes up it changes nothing.
Mental health, well we’ve got a problem there. My last school had nearly 2,000 students and three guidance counselors. Students don’t necessarily need a psychologist, but they do need to have someone to talk to. We’re so concerned with what grade everyone has in what class, but it’s very rare that anyone stops to ask, “What do you know about this student?” I wasn’t the best at knowing everything about all of my kids, but trying to get to know them is worth more than teaching them half the crap they’re going to forget in a few months anyway. Often times I walked into the staff area, or another teacher’s room and was pissed off at my students, but for the most part they’re trying to do better. Outside of schools, mental health professionals are needed in communities. We should be making sure that people are aware of any help they might be able to receive for a reasonable cost (universal health care is a whole other issue).
“Give all the teachers guns.” Don’t give all the teachers supplies, or a better wage, or the ability to not come in when they have the flu and still get paid, give them guns. Where does this magical gun money come from? The cut mental health fund? Listen, I can tell you that the last person you want to have a gun is some of the teachers I’ve been around. Teachers are people who are capable of making mistakes, and they often do. If you want to give teachers guns just ask yourself what the answer is when a teacher snaps and uses that government issued gun to kill.
Gun owners in general aren’t committing mass murder. I had a couple sit on the other side of my bar last night and the woman said, “He got an AR last year in about 5 minutes.” 5 minutes. The vetting process for a semi-automatic weapon takes 5 minutes. What the fuck? You can’t buy a car in 5 minutes, you can’t see a doctor in 5 minutes, you can’t even pick your Netflix show in 5 minutes, but you can be weaponized. It’s unreal that in such a short span of time you can walk in and walk out with a semi-automatic weapon that can shoot around 45 times in a minute. (I may be a little off on this number, but I believe it to be right) The unacceptable vetting process is an issue, and anyone that doesn’t see that after these school shootings is just upset that someone may take away their fun toys.
The most jarring part of this was being away from my home. I lived and worked in Broward county most of my life. I taught in a middle school 10 minutes away from this high school. I worked in the elementary school that directly funnels into this high school, and back home I’m sure people are being serious about changing things. However, I’m two states away and it’s almost treated as an, “Oh well.” Teachers went to work today and had no briefing on safety, doors remain unlocked or even open, the school security is non-existent, and it won’t change because, “It wouldn’t happen here.” Or even more shocking, “There was another one?” When a school shooting is reduced to another one; it should be a sign.
Enough is enough. It’s been nearly twenty years, and prayers haven’t worked. The government hasn’t worked. Our society hasn’t worked. It’s been nearly twenty years, and we’re no longer shocked, unless it’s in our own backyard. It’s been nearly twenty years, and nothing has changed. It’s been nearly twenty years, but these kids never got to celebrate 20.